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Final Environmental Impact Review - Belmont Uplands, EOEA #12376R
Office/R&D Building
Response from Friends of Alewife Reservation

September 24, 2003

Friends of Alewife Reservation

BOX 161 1770 Mass Ave.
Cambridge, MA. 02140-2818

Secretary Ellen Roy Herzfelder
EOEA, Attn: MEPA Office
251 Causeway Street, Suite 900
Boston, MA 02114-1180
Subject: Belmont Uplands, EOEA #12376R :FINAL EIR

Dear Secretary Herzfelder:

Friends of Alewife Resevation is a broad-based regional group that is continuously at work with stewarding and educational tours. Because the large land and waterways subwatershed of the Mystic is on a major transportation artery at the end of the red line, we bring in groups from the metropolitan area and local classes both university and elementary to learn from this dense and diverse ecological treasure, the largest untouched urban wild in the Boston area. That is a regional consideration that must be taken into account of on the state level. The US Forestry Service has charted this on their recent GIS Mystic Basin mapping of the area, within which is the Boston Basin the most fragmented part of Massachusetts, and the clear cutting plan would take down one of the most significant forested areas in the Boston Basin system. The only other forest green that shows up on the map larger than the Belmont-Alewife Reservation green uplands forest owned by O'Neill Properties Group is some smaller patch of forest at Fresh Pond, and west beyond the Basin to habitat area of Belmont and Lexington. As we know proposed work in the buffer zone is supposed to contribute to the protection of the interests identified in M.G.L. c. 131,s.40.

Regulations pertaining to the wetlands and buffer zones and would stop the development as planned are: MGLc.131s.40,I. Particularly, we refer to (301 CMR 11.07 (6)(1) for response to each comment which was not attempted by O'Neill Properties Group, but have been running in circles to try and keep up with the changing of plans and zonings in order for them to build anything as quickly as possible.

We have no staff for this level of pressure and procedures going for both commercial zoning and residential zoning.

I wish to defer to our Yale degree forester who made a characterization for FAR which describes the area. (Report attached). This was woefully described in the initial Environmental Impact Report by Epsilon Associates Inc.

Our concerns and comments have not been addressed:
* Endangered species sightings (covered in Cambridge letter)
* Characterization of unique forest cover (Report attached)
* Impact on habitat - (Book to be sent in the next week)
* Letter from Mass Historical Society on archelogoical possibilities
* Letter from MWRA with concerns about peak flooding
* Letter from City of Cambridge which notes downstream impacts
* Friends of Alewife Reservation letter noting the Uplands
or silver maple forest as the core habitat area of the 115 acre Alewife Reservation.
* Alternative site plans not presented which would show it as open space.

The Pennslyvania company's history of building and turning over their property after 2 years, needs serious consideration of the mass environmental destruction that is required to develop the heavily forested area.

In building the R&D buildling in Belmont where Cambridge is also a part to so vast an amount of the forest. There are no maps or charts that mention the clear-cutting needs, and requirements to pave this signficant forest and the impacts that would be expansive to Cambridge nd to the ponds and river and wetlands that surround it. This is Cambridge's largest concentrated wetland area.

The company once again claims there will be none. If they had performed significant assessments of the flora and fauna, the biologist would have located over 15 species of mammals and over 200 bird species and a huge amount of old growth trees, one of which is on a list for one of the oldest silver maples in New England.

A number of noted individuals and the Belmont Citizens Forum have called for a land swap with the MDC skating rink adjacent to the property, knows as the old skating rink. IT is directly on Route 2 and would be much easier to access and is already prepared for such a building. Its visibility is better and would seem a much more appropriate spot. IF the MDC were amenable the land swap should be explored immediately. But more appropriately would be more serious assessment of the actual enviromental functions that the wetlands and floodplain have for citizens and non-human inhabitants alike.

Ellen Mass, President
Friends of Alewife Reservation